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“Our Criminal Courts Are Failing Juvenile Defendants”


A recent article in The Nation highlighted a disturbing trend of juveniles not obtaining the criminal defense services that they need and are entitled to under the U.S. Constitution. According to a new analysis, these young juveniles are often left to navigate the legal system on their own after being denied access to a court-appointed lawyer due to overly strict rules governing access to these public justice services.

In fact, only 11 states provide every juvenile accused of a crime with an attorney, regardless of financial status, and no state guarantees an attorney for ever child during interrogation.

What happens to the many juveniles locked up for crimes, where the court determines that their family can afford to hire a private attorney, who then do not hire that attorney for one reason or another? Those young people stay behind bars.


Many judges arguably see juveniles who come into the system as social liabilities who need to be taken out of society or harshly disciplined instead of as human beings entitled to civil rights. And yet, many of these young people ended up in the system because their communities lack basic services for social support and mental-health care.

Within one day, a 12-year-old could get detained by officers and bullied into confessing without ever speaking with their parents or an attorney; this same analysis found that 43 states allow children to waive their right to counsel without first consulting an attorney. How many children know that they even have Fifth Amendment rights?

One Young Man’s Story

The article described one young man’s tragic story; the story of a 17-year-old with cognitive disabilities who was erroneously arrested for armed robbery, interrogated for two hours, whereby the police lied and said that they had evidence of guilt, including eyewitnesses, and the young man had a breakdown, pleading for his mother and threatening to kill himself. At the end of it, he gave up, provided a false confession, and faced 45 years in prison. And he was innocent. 

The Very Best Civil Rights & Criminal Defense Attorneys

When you have access to counsel, you can hold the system accountable. If you are a Florida juvenile and have been suspected of or arrested for a crime, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. It is imperative that you do not enter a system whereby your rights are denied and you are forced to provide a false confession, facing years in prison for a crime you never committed.

The experienced criminal defense and civil rights attorneys at the Baez Law Firm can help. We protect and serve clients throughout Florida and Massachusets, and provide a focus in criminal defense, civil litigation, and civil rights. Contact us today at 800-588-BAEZ or online for a free consultation.



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